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Henry Adams, the nineteenth (| 
tury philosopher, said that the hi; 
of America is not the history of tl| 
few, but the history of the many. ! 
people of Boston's neighborhoods 
accepted the challenge of Adam'; 
statement to produce "people's h 
tories" of their own communities' 
Hundreds of Bostonians formed c 
mittees in each of fifteen neighbor 
of the city, volunteering their tim( 
the past year and a half to reseai 
in libraries, search for photograp 
produce questionnaires, transcrib| 
tapes, assist in writing and editin ■ 
most important, act as interview, 
and subjects of "oral history" rest 
These booklets are not traditiom 
textbook histories, and we have n 
tempted to cull a statistical samp ! 
We have simply talked with our 
neighbors, people who remembe】 
sometimes with fondness, sometii 
with regret, but always with wis( 
For each of us has his or her ow] 
story to tell, and these stories arc 
to the development of our neigh 
hoods and our city. 

© 1976, The Boston 200 Corpon 
Boston 200 is the citys official progn 
to observe the Bicentennial of the 
American Revolution from April igy- 
through December 1976. 

Kevin H. White, Mayor ' 
Katharine D. Kane, 

President, The Boston 200 Corpora 
I Beacon Street 
Boston, Massachusetts 02108 

3 i 


LMOST a century ago, Boston's first Chinese 
)itched their tents along tiny, crowded Ping On Alley, 
hey came from the West Coast as contract laborers, 
ecruited for the construction of the Pearl Street tele- 
hone exchange. 
From its makeshift beginnings, the "tent city" 
volved into a tightly knit, tenacious community, and 
□day, the narrow alley off Beech Street is at the cen- 
of what has become the fourth largest Chinese 
ommunity in the United States. Immigration re- 
trictions long stunted the community's growth; dis- 
rimination has confined Chinese workers to low- 
aying jobs; and the cultural barrier has prolonged 
he existence of an insular, immigrant community. 
Chinatown has always been a cohesive community 
nd even now perhaps as many as 80 percent of its 
esidents neither speak nor understand English. 

While the Chinese number among the residents of 
early every Boston neighborhood today, Chinatown 
emains a focal point for them, a thriving business 
nd social center that serves more than just its nearby 
esidents. With its restaurants, grocery stores, and 
; ift shops, the Beech Street area has become a source 
f food, culture, and friendship for its residents and 

those who live elsewhere in the city, as well as for the 
Chinese throughout New England. 

Recognizable by its pagoda-topped telephone 
booths and Chinese language signs, the community 
occupies a low-rent district bounded by expressways 
on the east and the strip joints of the Combat Zone on 
the west. Adjacent to the city's central business dis- 
trict and at the heart of its garment district, China- 
town's small area has frequently been the object of 
competition for its prime space. In recent years, the 
Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Tufts-New 
England Medical Center, the Massachusetts Turnpike 
Authority, and the Department of Public Works have 
been among the forces vying for the valuable space. 
Land takings have reduced the area by at least half 
within the past 15 years, while its population has in- 
creased more than 25 percent. Recently through the 
efforts of community leaders, a growing cultural 
awareness among the young and among many suc- 
cessful Chinese businessmen and professionals has led 
to a renewed interest and a greater commitment to 
resolving Chinatown's problems. 

Bounded today by Essex Street to the north, the 
Massachusetts Turnpike to the south, the Southeast 

OVER photo: Family awaiting New Tear's guests on New Years day, Harrison Avenue, igso. 

Paying respects to the ancestors. 

Expressway to the east, and Harrison Avenue to the 
west, Chinatown was, until the late 1830s, little more 
than an ocean tidal flat. The present land area of 
Chinatown was created, for the most part, by landfill 
more than 30 years before the Chinese first settled in 
Boston. The area was intended for residential use, but 
the railroad tracks blocked expansion to both the east 
and south, sharply reducing its desirability. By 1843, 
middle-class Americans were leaving the area and its 
transformation into a low-rent district, accessible to 
immigrants, was set. 

Boston's introduction to the Chinese came soon 
after the American Revolution, when the Boston 
China Trade brought sailors and merchants to the 

Caroline Chang, a young Chinatown native who works for the 

T 890 funeral on Harrison Ave, 

Department of Health, Education and Welfare, tells of Bo: 
ton's earliest Chinese visitors: 

"Chinese people started coming to the Boston are 
quite early, even as early as the whaling days. Ne\ 
England merchant ships were going to China am 
they took on some Chinese as sailors or as crewmer 
There are records of Chinese in the area in the i8tl 
century. And there is one Chinese who supposedly i 
buried at the Central Burying Ground at Boston Com 
mon, and that's from those merchant days or whalin 

In 1786 Major Samuel Shaw, a Boston merchant, wa 
appointed first Consul General to China, and th 
importance of Boston's trade relations with China wa 

But it was not until almost a century after the open 

一 < ;玄卑 氣;^ i 

Close-up of photo on previous page 

ig of the China Trade that Chinese immigrants 
tablished a permanent community in Boston. During 
le 1 850s and '60s many Chinese, most of them from 
ic province of KiiangTung, came to the West Coast, 
merican businessmen recruited them as a cheap 
•urce of labor to build western cities, conimunica- 
:)ns systems, and especially the transcontinental rail- 
»ad. By 1869, when workmen laid the last rail of the 
'adbedj there were nearly 63,000 Chinese in the 
estcrn United States. During the 1870s anti-Chinese 
ntiment mounted steadily among other immigrant 
oups, because they saw the Chinese as competitors 
r scarce jobs. 

(lyyy Dow, a respected member of Boston's Chinese conwm- 
[y, explains the predicament of Chinese workers in the 1870s: 
"The Chinese were brought over here as a Ibnii of 
wcry. They had them build the railroads and do all 
e heavy work. Of course, they paid them, but after 
ey had finished the heavy work they had no use for 
em. Then there were the Chinese massacres and 

that sort of thing. Actually the Chinese have had it as 
hard as the blacks in the United States ― they've really 
gone through the same phase." 

Jobless Chinese began to drift to the big cities of the 
East Coast, where employment opportunites were 
better and attitudes more cosmopolitan. In 1875, this 
eastward migration led some of these Chinese workers 
to Boston. That year, a group of Chinese were brought 
from the West Coast to break a strike at a shoe factory 
in North Adams, a small milltown in the Berkshires. 
When the strike ended, the workers drifted to Boston 
in search of jobs. 
As Ms, Chang tells the story: 

"Chinatown started almost 100 years ago. The story 
is that a group of Chinese were brought in to break the 
shoe strike. There were the Chinese who had settled on 
the West Coast, and who had stayed in California after 
the gold rush, trying to survive. They were laborers - 
second generation, some still first generation 一 who 
had come for about five years and didn't have any 

The Chin family in China, 1923 

other place to go and couldn't go back to China. They 
were a ready labor force when workers in this area 
went on strike," 

After 1875, a small but steady stream of immigrants 
added to Boston's Chinese community. They came on 
the transcontinental railroad ― the product itself of 
Chinese labor. Boston's Chinese arrived at South 
Station and settled close by, in the area known as 
South Cove. Like most immigrant groups they lived 
in a low-rent section on the edge of the downtown 
business district. 

By 1890, the whole South Cove was clearly estab- 
lished as Chinese. As the tenements grew shabbier and 

industry moved closer, previous immigrant groups- 
the Irish, the Central European Jews, the Italians an 
then the Syrians ― moved out. Of an estimated 25 
Chinese in Boston in 1890, at least 200 lived in Chim 

Chinatown's population increased slowly, howeve ; 
because the Chinese were legally affected by a grovi 
ing anti-foreign sentiment. The community grew t; 
only 1000 people by 1920, and to just 1600 in ig^t 
The Chinese became the object of the most sevei' 
form of restriction; the Exclusion Act of 1883, whic 
for 60 years barred all Chinese from entering tl| 
country, except for the wives and children of thi 

The Seto family in Bos(o.\ 

一 力二三 年疎 &象、 在 

laborers who were already settled here. Later, the Im- 
migration Act of 1924 flatly denied citizenship to all 
"alien Orientals." 

The sojourners who left China were, by and large, 
poor villagers who intended to send money to their 
families and save enough so that they might return 
some day and invest in land or a business. 
As Ms. Chang says: 

"For a long time, most of the Chinese that came to 
this country were people from a rural background; 
they tended to have some education but not a whole 
lot. It was a predominantly male group that came. 
Originally the men came because of a drought and a 
rather unstable political situation in China. And these 
men just never got a chance to go back. The theory 
was they would come here, try to earn some money 
and go back. There was never the intention to stay 

Before World War 11, due to these restrictions, 
there were very few Chinese families living in China- 
town and rarely any Chinese women. The Chinese 
tried to circumvent the regulations, often by creating 
"paper families." 

Chinese men who had immigrated here for con- 
struction jobs would return to visit China, and, while 
there, claim the "birth" of sons (sons were deemed 
more valuable than daughters) . An entire "paper 
family" would be created as Chinese men claimed as 
wives and children people who were not even related 
to them. Someone here bought immigration rights for 
the "family member," most often a son, and then ap- 
plied to the American Consulate in China for the 
child's entry to Boston. Once approved, the immigrant 
received the travel documents necessary to enter the 
United States. 

The most difficult test came upon arrival, during a 
period of detention in an Immigration and Naturaliza- 
tion Center. The New England Detention Center in 
East Boston, which was little more than a jail, had 

been established specifically for Chinese immigram 
and criminals awaiting deportation. The waitin 
period ranged from a week to over a year. The irri 
migrant "son" and "father" were each subjected to ir 
tensive interrogation, and discrepancies in their ar 
swers usually meant deportation. If cleared, the recer 
immigrant could remain here and perhaps travel t 
China himself some day to devise his own paper famib 

Until the 1960s, then, Boston's Chinese-America 
community was relatively small and predominant! 
male; family life was almost non-existent; and, sine 
there were few children to send to schools where the| 
would learn English, acculturation to America 
society was minimal. 

Because the majority of Chinese were alone an 
without families, the immigrants did not assimilal 
into American society. Racial discrimination and th 
language barrier encouraged them to cluster togethei 
restricted housing and employment opportunit(t 
limited their mobility. They sought inconspicuousne: 
and chose occupations that minimized economic con 
petition with other groups, and they clung fast to tli 
values of rural China, which further isolated the con 
munity. As Charles Sullivan and Kathlyn Hatch e> 
plained in The Chinese in Boston, 1970, "In that [China'.' 
crowded and competitive agricultural society, survive 
depended on family unity; the stability of the soci: 
structure depended ... on the individual fulfilling h 
responsibility to the group. ... In every respect, the ir 
dividual was expected to defer to the wisdom and pri\ 
ileges of his elders." This ethic, which was based o 
Confucianism, was autocratic and hierarchical an 
valued obedience above all else. 

Harry Dow describes how this attitude has affected mat 
Chinese immigrants : 

"Chinese are more or less fatalistic and believe th«'' 
what occurs will occur as God ordained. If it was goin 
to happen, it was going to happen, however you live 
your life. And I kind of felt that way too. We could g 


il traditional teahouse in Boston 

irough life being frugal and saving money and pre- 
paring for old age and retirement and all of a sudden ― 
iflation. It changes everything. For instance, I know 
sople that were millionaires in China, everything 
as wiped out; they came over here and washed 
ishes. And people that were professional people, fine 
irgeons in China, come over here now and cannot 
ractice. They have to take menial jobs. So, you have 
) be fatalistic in a way and say, 'What will be, will 

Few occupations have been open to Chinese- Amer- 
icans and only rarely did immigrants find work out- 
side of Chinatown. Willing to work long, hard hours, 
many opened laundries which required little capital 
and only a slight knowledge of English. The laundries 
created hundreds of jobs. All the work ~~ washing, 
ironing, folding, and wrapping ~ was done by hand. 
The workday started at 5 a.m. and ended at 1 1 p.m., 
with 1 5 minute breaks for lunch and dinner, and an- 
other 15 minutes for resting. Even when machines were 

introduced in the late 1930s, the hours remained long 
and tedious. However, the use of machinery freed 
workers on Sundays and many people began attend- 
ing churches where they could learn English. The rest 
of the day they spent in Chinatown, socializing, gro- 
cery-shopping, gambling, and eating with friends and 

Chinese restaurants were the other major source of 
employment for the community and many immigrants 
with little knowledge of English found jobs there. 
Grocery stores and trading companies serving the 
community spawned employment as well. During the 
1 920s, Chinese women succeeded other immigrant 
women in the garment and needle trades. 

New communal institutions replaced the social 
hierarchy left behind in China. Family associations all 
but governed the community. The associations pro- 
vided capital to start businesses, found jobs for the un- 
employed, and mediated family feuds; they also held 
Sunday social functions. Members bore the same sur- 
name but were not necessarily related. Since China- 
town was virtually self-contained socially and eco- 
nomically, these associations wielded considerable 
power. In each Chinatown, the largest family was most 
influential and, to compensate, members of several 
smaller families often grouped together into one as- 
sociation, tracing their kinship through history or 
literature. For years, the "supreme organization" in 
New England was the Chinese Consolidated Benevo- 
lent Association (CCBA) ; an umbrella for most com- 
munity groups, it commanded the unquestioned re- 
spect of the community. It was founded in 1875 to 
preserve ties between immigrants and Chinese back 
home, promote friendly relations between the Chinese 
and the. Americans, and organize welfare and chari- 
table projects. It has traditionally served as the spokes- 
man for the Chinese community and mediated prob- 
lems among the many community groups. 

One such group, the Chinese Merchants Associa- 

tion, tried to assure each of its members a reasonabL 
livelihood by limiting competition among Chines 
businesses both in and outside of Chinatown. A typi 
cal rule prohibited two Chinese merchants from open 
ing the same kind of business on one street unless 
specified number of doors separated them. 

The Chinese Merchants Association supported . 
Chinese school in Boston, the Quong Kow School 
established shortly after the turn of the century t, 
provide youths with a traditional Chinese educatioi 
and strengthen cultural ties. The community solicitec 
scholars from China and others able to teach Chinese 
and held classes daily from 4 to 6 p.m. and on Satur 
day mornings. The school provided the equivalent c 
an eighth grade education in China. 

Finally, there was Chinatown's remittance agent, ; 
one-man multi-service agency. Through him, peopl 
made arrangements to send money to relatives stil 
living in China. The agent transferred the money t< 
another agent in the home village and relatives then 
received the equivalent exchange. In addition, th* 
agent spoke English and took care of interpretatioil 
problems, immigration and naturalization matters ' ] 
income tax forms, and other situations that require( 
familiarity with American society. 

The Second World War was a major turning poin 
in the evolution of the Chinese community in America 
The exclusionary laws were repealed in 1943 anc 
other, less restrictive legislation followed. A nationa 
origins system was established which allowed 105 im 
migrants annually, plus immediate relatives of thosi 
who had become American citizens. At the outbreal 
of the war, many stranded Chinese Merchant Marine 
had volunteered for dangerous naval munitions run 
to England. In the next few years, a large number 01 
immigrant Chinese men enlisted or were drafted int( 
the Armed Forces. After the war, Congress grantee 
legal residence status to these men and exempted thei 
wives and children still in China from immigratioi 



he first commencement of the Quong Kow Chinese School, June 

iotas. The War Brides Act enabled more Chinese 
omen to come to Boston and, along with other 
langes in the immigration laws, brought about a 
ooo per cent increase in Chinatown's female popula- 
)n during the late 1940s. The Refugee Relief Acts, 
lacted in response to the Communist victory in the 
' hinese Civil War, opened the way for over 14,000 
J hinese to settle in the United States, and many came 

The attitude of Post- World War II immigrants was 
amatically different from those who had regarded 
eir stay as temporary. "It wasn't until after World 
ar II when the communists took over China and 
. stricted travel," says Caroline Chang, "that the men 
lally realized they were going to have to stay in this 


country; they couldn't go back to China. Then people 
started turning to the idea of bringing their families 
over here." The Chinese at last started to put down 
roots in America. 

The Chinese community became less economically 
autonomous and its population grew more diverse. 
The labor shortage caused by the war had opened the 
job market to Chinese men and women who worked at 
the Hingham and Boston Naval Shipyards, the South 
Boston Naval Yard Annex, and the Watertown Ar- 
senal. The relaxed immigration laws paved the way 
for a permanent and growing Chinese community. 
Citizens bought homes and made long-term invest- 
ments, and those who were eligible arranged to bring 
their families over. Chinese restaurants increased in 

Edward B. F. Chin, 1940 


.'/lint'St' children in BostorCs Tercentenary Parade, ig^o 

popularity and became extremely profitable businesses. 
Significantly many establishments provided trans- 
ortation for their employees, preserving the old com- 
lunal standards). Since it was nearly impossible to 
^turn to the mainland after the Civil War, Boston's 
-hinese turned their attention to their own com- 
mnity. The increased female population fostered 
lore family life, and the first large group of American- 
orn Chinese followed. For the first time, social and 
:onomic advancement became important to Boston's 
hinese. And when their children entered American 
hools, some of the more obvious barriers to inter- 
:tion between the two cultures, such as language, 
^gan to fall away. 

The generation of children that grew up at this time 
tained very close cultural ties with China. If raised 

in Chinatown, they very rarely associated with Cau- 

As one resident remembers: 

"There was a lot of discrimination. The Chinese were 
known as the 'yellow peril' that was coming into 
America. I remember going to kindergarten with my 
sister; we sat through a couple of days and couldn't 
understand a thing because we didn't have any En- 
glish-speaking abilities. They sent us home and some- 
body found us roaming around the streets and took us 
back to our house, my father's place. Our parents 
asked why we didn't stay in school; we said, 'We didn't 
understand them and so they told us to go home.' So 
you can understand how far apart the various races 
were at that time." 

The Chinese who went to college tended to major in 


science or engineering, pursuing careers in fields where 
there was less discrimination than others and where 
fluency in English was not imperative. Parents dis- 
couraged their children from becoming doctors or 
teachers or from majoring in business, fearing that any 
infringement on the white world would arouse resent- 

The changes gave rise to some divisions in the com- 
munity. The children of immigrants sometimes re- 
jected their traditions, severely straining the bonds of 
family and community. Many of the recently natu- 
ralized Chinese-Americans hailed from provinces 
other than KuangTung and so they spoke different 
dialects. Ethnic divisions among Chinese-Americans 
were intensified by class divisions, especially after the 
revolution. Emigres and Mandarin (northern Chinese) 
students stranded here tended to separate themselves 
from the low-income, poorly educated Cantonese ma- 
jority. The immigrants of the '50s and '60s were pre- 
dominantly from Hong Kong and their cosmopolitan 
ways clashed with the rural values of the established 
community. "Hong Kong immigrants," declares one 
resident, "and the second or third generation Chinese 
are very far apart." Chinatown found itself deluged 
with cultural diversity. 

Until recently, the Chinese community was essen- 
tially closed to outsiders. All matters were taken care 
of by relatives and friends. In order to save face, family 
and community organizations strove to resolve any 
problems their members encountered. In adhering to 
this principle they encouraged the stereotype of the 
self-sufficient Chinese. 

The mid- 1 950s marked another major turning 
point for Boston's Chinese. Urban renewal and the 
construction of the Tufts-New England Medical Cen- 
ter shattered the status quo of the self-contained com- 
munity. Chinatown could not remain silent against 
the encroachment by the outside world. In 1951, the 
Chinese Merchants Association building on Oxford 


Street was opened for community use. However, with- 
in a decade almost half of the building was torn dowr 
to make way for the Southeast Expressway. This sig': 
nailed the beginning of an urban renewal plan tha 
would halve the land area of Chinatown. 

Other institutions joined in the Chinatown lane" 
takings: the Boston Redevelopment Authority for the, 
South Cove Urban Renewal Project, the Tufts-Nev 
England Medical Center for expansion of its healtl 
care and teaching facilities, and the Massachusett; 
Turnpike Authority for the turnpike extension. But 
in 1962, when the public learned of the BRA's plan;! 
for the South Cove, plans that many saw benefitting 
Tufts only, the Chinese community and Mayor Johr 
Collins reached a "memorandum of understanding.' 
The memorandum described Chinatown as the area 
from Essex Street to Kneeland Street, part of th( 
Central Business District, and the area from Kneelanc 
Street to Tai Tung Village. To protect the communitv 
from further land taking, the memorandum gave th< 
community veto power over any "outside" developers 

As urban renewal progressed, Chinatown resident: 
were forced to relocate, first to the borders of China; 
town, then to Castle Square and the South End. 
As Richard Chin recalls: 

"Before 1955 there were no Chinese families livin, 
south of Dover Street. But after the Mass. Pike exten 
sion came through and they knocked down our houses 
the South End was the logical place to move. Chines 
people couldn't move to the west or north becaus 
those areas were filled with the Combat Zone and th 
downtown stores." 

Others moved to areas easily accessible by publi 
transportation ― Allston - Brighton, Brookline, Rox 
bury, and Dorchester. To the relocated Chinese, thes 
were little more than bedroom communities and the 
continued to spend most of their working hours i: 
Chinatown or in Chinese businesses. 

Immigration to Greater Boston increased at th 

Grace IVu, actress in the Chinese Opera, c. igj(\ 


same time that people were forced to leave the center 
city. Traditional employment patterns continued and 
more Chinese restaurants opened in the suburbs. As 
the number of restaurants grew, the number of laun- 
dries declined with the advent of permanent-press 

One resident describes the situation: 

"The laundries have almost disappeared. They used 
to be the principal business of the Chinese, and res- 
taurants have dashed out now into the suburbs and on 
the highways. Back in the old days, the only place you 
could get Chinese food would be in Chinatown. But 
now the restaurants are the principal business and 
there are only a few shops in Chinatown ― the sup- 
pliers and one or two souvenir shops. But other than 
that the Chinese still aren't engaged in anything else, 
except the second and third generation or perhaps the 
better-educated folk from China in the professions ― 
engineering, medicine, 

"But many of the old timers know no other trade 
except what they're presently engaged in. A few of 
them work in the sweat shops or needle trade as you 
might call them. There's no avenue for them. And that 
is one of the problems amongst the Chinese workers. 
The workers have no employment outside of the res- 
taurants and restaurants can't take care of all of them. 
There's a saturation of restaurant workers at the 
present time." 

Chinatown, despite recent changes, remains the 
center of social and cultural activities. "The Chinese 
in Boston," says Harry Dow, "all gravitate back into 
Chinatown. Whatever associations or groups or lead- 
ers that have a say in most of the Chinese activities 
are centered in Chinatown." Chinese from all over 
New England still come to buy the week's groceries, 
visit with friends and relatives, enjoy their customs 
and speak Chinese, see an opera or indulge in a bit of 
gambling, a major social activity for many older 
Chinese. The family associations hold frequent gath- 

erings for their clans and sponsor wedding banquet 
and christenings. Chinatown also provides the onl, 
social activities for the many single men who live alomi 
throughout Greater Boston. One major celebration 11: 
the Chinese community is the August Moon Festival 
Caroline Chang explairu that celebration: ' 

"It's the second most important holiday in th', 
Chinese calendar after New Year's. The festival 〜va 
really in honor of the harvest and w omen. There's ; 
lot of legends associated with the August Moon Festi 
val ― they have to do with lovers. There's one stor 
about a couple who had been separated. The womai' 
went to live in New England. Once a year the husbanc 
was allowed to go visit the woman. He delivered mes- 
sages through the use of moon cakes. So there is a lo 
of tradition in the festival. There are historical legends 
not just the more fairy tale legends. One says tha 
during one of the times when China was at war th' 
tribes used moon cakes to give over secrets to theii 
counterparts by slipping pieces of paper inside them 
According to the Chinese calendar it's supposed to b 
the 15th day of the 8th month. In Boston what we'v 
done is we've linked up the festival with Summerthinil 
so we actually celebrate it a little late." 
Two Chinese language schools, print shops, two Chi- 
nese movie theaters, book stores, and a Chinese Cente 
for the Arts also promote Chinese culture. 

In the late 1950s, the Immigration and Natural 
ization Service acknowledged the existence of pape 
families. It allowed these illegal immigrants to "con 
fess" and become naturalized citizens after residini 
here for five years. By 1965, the government ha( 
abolished the quota system. Chinese immigration 
peaked in the late 1960s and the number of Chines 
entering the country increased fivefold in just tw, 
years. The Chinese population is currently increasin: 
by 300 new residents each year and newcomers fac 
some of the same problems that confronted immigrant 
20 years ago. 


nving Evil Spirits away with the Lion Dance, 1940、^ 

The language barrier is still the major obstacle that 
linese immigrants encounter. They continue to find 
bs that do not require fluency in English and since 
ere is no need or opportunity to learn English, thcy 
id themselves locked into the same menial positions, 
le language barrier has led to underemployment in 
e community, with doctors, physicists, mechanics, 
id teachers working in restaurants or other service 
cupations. These employment limitations only in- 
sase Chinatown's isolation. 

There are new problems as well. Where family or 
mmunity elders once handled all problems internal- 

ly, today it is no longer possible. Since both parents 
often work, the close family ties that once character- 
ized the Chinese way of life have weakened. Chinese 
parents and youths are experiencing a generation gap 
as young people search for an identity which will syn- 
thesize traditional Chinese values with modern Ameri- 
can precepts. There are reports of increasing mental 
health problems and a rising juvenile delinquency 
rate. In 1972, one delinquency case "as reported; one 
year later, there were 23. 

Unemployment will certainly increase, given a 
saturated Chinese job market and a high city-wide 


The Golden Age Center, Harrison Ave. 

unemployment rate. In addition, the physical land 
area of Chinatown has decreased by half while its 
population has doubled, and there is no more avail- 
able land to absorb an expanding population unless 
the community moves southward toward Castle 
Square and the South End. The other alternative is to 
build high rise structures, but that is not economically 
feasible for most Chinese. 

But there is hope. Forward - looking community 
action groups are tackling Chinatown's problems. 
Programs in manpower training and English, a neigh- 
borhood employment center, a youth civic organiza- 
tion, elderly housing, and a new community school 
will all enhance the community and ease the accul- 
turation of the Chinese in Boston. 

Chinatown's residents and outside agencies are 
joining in this effort. In 1969 the Office of Human 

Rights helped form a Community Grievance Task- 
Force which, under the auspices of the CCBA, helps 
identify the community's problems. Chinatown Little 
City Hall has provided another needed link between 
the community and the City. 

Another community group, the Chinese- American 
Civic Association (CAGA), has become increasingly 
community-action oriented, and works to get funding 
for many social service programs. In 1971, the CACA 
organized the only bilingual conference in North 
America, the Conference on the Future of Boston's 
Chinatown. It brought together people from the West 
Coast, New York, and Canada to discuss the problems 
of Chinese communities and devise possible solutions. 
Since the conference, a Golden Age Center has opened 
and plans are underway for construction of elderly 
housing and a nursing home. Pagoda Park, built on a 


small piece of land between the expressway ramps, is a 
recent addition to the community's recreational 
facilities. The health clinic has been in operation for 
almost two years. The CACA multi-service center 
provides adult education classes and publishes Sampan^ 
the community's only bilingual monthly newspaper. 
Tufts-New England Medical Center has a unique 
bilingual mental health team for children and young 
adults, and the community's youth are active in many 
other groups as well. 

Last year, 1975, Chinatown celebrated its looth 
anniversary. The community has come a long way 
from the "tent city," but only after enduring years of 
prejudice. Boston's Chinese community is still very 
small. The community recognizes its limited political 
impact and the younger generation is determined to 
change this situation. 

In its second hundred years, Boston's Chinatown 
faces the challenge of acculturating to American 
society while striving to retain its own cultural identity 
and heritage. There are already many middle-class, 
second-generation Chinese-Americans who have made 
substantial contributions to American life by their 
participation in American institutions. That number 
can increase in the coming years. But the community 
has been crippled by its isolation and stereotypes, and 
the Chinese people have yet to receive their fair share. 
If future generations of Chinese-Americans have an 
easier time living in the mainstream of American 
society, their contributions toward that society can be 
much greater than in the past, and both cultures will 

爿 4 識举一 

Mrs. Eng Sung, 95, the oldest woman in Chinatown 


t§ 錢- 

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Project Staff 

Katie Kenneally, project coordinator 
May Ling Tong, Paul L. Chin, Richard Chin, writer-researchers 
Anne L. Millet, Sari Rob off, editors 
Jan Corash, photographic editor 
JeanWeinshel, Nina Solomi t a, editorial staff 
H ARRON Ellenson, director Boston 200 
Michael and Winifred Bixler, typography 
Jerry Chu, calligraphy 

ACKNO WLEDGMENTS : The experience and insights of many people of Chinatown contributed 
to the making of this history. We would like to thank especially Peter Chan, manager of 
Chinatown Little City Hall, Robert Rosenbaum and Peter Irons of University of Mass- 
achusetts College 111, and the following participants: Mou Chan, Paul Chan, Aili Chin, 
Annie Chin, Edward Bing Fong Chin, Frank Chin, Mina Chin, Tong G. Chin, William Chin, 
Winnie Chin, Susan Chen, Jerry Chu, Amy & Edward Goon, Rowena Kwan, Richard & 
Helen Len, Alice Seto, James Soohoo, Eugene Tong, C. L. Tsang, Elizabeth Tse, Sam Wong, 
and the Staff of the Chinese- American Multi-Service Center. 

PHOTO CREDITS: Susan Sills, Boston Architectural Center, designer of the neighborhood exhibit. 

SPONSORS: The Chinatown Neighborhood History Project was funded by the Massachusetts 
Bicentennial Commission. The Neighborhood History Series was also made possible by the 
support of: The Godfrey M. Hyams Trust, Workingmens Co-operative Bank, and the people 
of the City of Boston. 

Boston enjoys an international reputation as the birthplace of our American 
Revolution. Today, as the nation celebrates its 200th anniversary, that struggle 
for freedom again draws attention to Boston. The heritage of Paul Revere, Sam 
Adams, Faneuil Hall and Bunker Hill still fire our romantic imaginations. 

But a heritage is more than a few great names or places 一 it is a culture, 
social history and, above all, it is people. Here in Boston, one of our most cher- 
ished traditions is a rich and varied neighborhood life. The history of our neigh- 
borhood communities is a fascinating and genuinely American story ~ a story 
of proud and ancient peoples and customs, preserved and at the same time 
transformed by the American urban experience. 

So to celebrate our nation's birthday we have undertaken to chronicle 
Boston's neighborhood histories. Compiled largely from the oral accounts of 
living Bostonians, these histories capture in vivid detail the breadth and depth 
of our city's complex past. They remind us of the most important component 
of Boston's heritage 一 people, which is, after all, what the Bicentennial is all about. 

Kevin H. White, Alqyor